Skip to content

Biden’s Budget Request for FY 22 and Related Issues

January 29, 2021

Presidents routinely send their budget requests to Congress in early February — except when it is a new administration.  In those instances, a “skinny budget” with top-line priorities usually comes in late February or early March, with the detailed budget request coming later. We expect the target for release of the detailed version will be March, but might take until April.

It seems certain that President Biden’s team will want these documents released sooner than in 2017, when President Trump unveiled his skinny budget in mid-March and the full budget in late May. There have been reports that the Biden team was slowed by not having access to the programs and numbers in President Trump’s planned FY 22 budget request. So, it is harder to know how much earlier they will have the detailed budget ready. The process might also be delayed by the likely initiation of budget reconciliation by Congressional Democrats trying to move a package of President Biden’s priority initiatives.

Most years, the President’s request provides a window into FDA’s immediate priorities. Accordingly, the Alliance uses the President’s program requests, as well as his numbers, as a starting point on putting together its own “ask” of Congress. The Alliance’s views of FDA’s needs are almost always more expansive than what has been allotted in the President’s request. That reflects our view that FDA’s growing responsibilities require a budget that grows.

This year, the Alliance’s “ask” will be compiled without the benefit of the President’s budget request. As a result, our ask for the year — likely to be presented in early March — will be subject to revision when we see the President’s detailed request.

President Biden has yet to name a new FDA Commissioner, which requires Senate confirmation. In 2017 and 2009 (the first years of the last two administrations), a new commissioner was announced in March and was confirmed in May. If the Appropriations Committees take agency testimony in March and April, as it does in most years, then it is possible that Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock will testify for the agency.

Yet another difference this year is that there are no preset spending caps dictated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, including its requirements for sequestration. As a result, for FY 22 appropriation bills and thereafter, Congress will need to engage in de novo discussions on how much to spend — both for defense and non-defense programs. Under existing law, the budget committees in the House and Senate are supposed to establish spending limits by April 15. Once passed, the budget resolutions guide appropriators as to how much they can spend. Given the change in the ground rules, it is uncertain how Congress will set priorities and spending caps.

We will continue to monitor and report on the FY 22 process, simultaneous with planned activities to advocate for additional resources for FDA to carry out its mission.

Editorial note: The Analysis and Commentary section is written by Steven Grossman, Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, with assistance from Roger Szemraj of Olsson, Frank, and Weeda.

Comments are closed.